How to Self-Publish & Market a Nonfiction Book

Self-publishing has revolutionized the way in which authors bring their works to the world. Unlike traditional publishing, where authors often face numerous hurdles and relinquish creative control, self-publishing empowers fiction and nonfiction authors alike to take charge of every aspect of the publishing process. However, this autonomy comes with its own set of challenges, particularly in the realm of marketing. You’ll find yourself asking: How do you get customers to your book?

In this article, we’ll teach you how to self-publish a nonfiction book and get it in customers’ hands, from manuscript preparation to distribution and sales strategies.

Create a book proposal

Even though you’re going to self-publish your nonfiction book, it’s a good idea to take a page out of the traditional publishing playbook. Once you have your idea for your book, write a proposal. This will include an overview, a market analysis, a comparable title analysis, and a marketing plan. This proposal will help you decide how viable your book is in the marketplace.

Once you feel that there is a market for your book, it’s time to start writing.

Preparing your manuscript

We’re going to assume you know how to write your nonfiction book, so let’s pick up the plot after you’ve written your last chapter.

Finalizing your nonfiction content

Before diving into the self-publishing process, it’s crucial to ensure that your manuscript is hitting all the right notes and is polished to perfection.

  • Beta readers: Seek out feedback from beta readers to gain valuable insights and ensure your book resonates with your target audience. You can always ask friends and family for feedback, but honestly, your best bet is to hire beta readers on a site like Fiverr. This way you know you’ll get unbiased feedback, and that feedback will be more fleshed out than, “Yeah, I really liked it.”
  • Book editing: Once you’ve incorporated your reader feedback and finished one last rewrite, it’s time for editing. Do not edit the book yourself. Writers are truly unable to see errors in their own text. Be sure to hire a professional who will provide you with an error-free manuscript. BookBaby offers professional editing services at affordable prices and speedy turnaround times.

The title of your nonfiction book

Your title and cover design are the most important and effective forms of advertising. You need a snappy, memorable title that will stop customers in their tracks and demand they open your book. Think of such classic nonfiction titles as The 4-Hour Workweek, The Perfect Storm, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck for inspiration.

Designing your nonfiction book

Your book design plays a pivotal role in captivating readers and enhancing comprehension. Just like book editing, cover design is definitely something not left to the amateurs. Hire a professional book cover designer to create an aesthetically pleasing cover that will instantly grab attention, complement your content, and make a winning first impression. BookBaby offers cover design for as little as $399.

Formatting your nonfiction book

Unlike with fiction, nonfiction books aren’t usually just text. Modern nonfiction books not only incorporate lots of photographs, charts, and illustrations, but also include side bars, pull quotes, and other nonlinear text formatting elements. As such, you are way better off hiring a pro to layout your book. And not to sound like a broken record, but BookBaby offers incredible book formatting services at prices indie authors can afford.

Grow your author brand with eBooks

Choosing the right trim size and binding

Selecting the appropriate trim size and binding for your book depends on various factors such as content, audience preferences, and budget.

Hardcover or paperback?

With nonfiction books — especially business books — hardcover is the norm, and finding a publishing partner that offers quality hardcover books can be a challenge. While Ingram Spark’s hardcover quality is notoriously inconsistent, BookBaby’s quality constantly gets rave reviews from authors and readers alike.

Trim size

This is where your comparable title analysis is going to pay off. Choose a trim size that popular books in your genre and subgenre use. BookBaby offers traditional trim sizes as well as nontraditional.

Publishing, distribution, and sales

Today, indie authors have numerous avenues open to them when it comes to self-publishing their books. If you’re unfamiliar with the self-publishing process, BookBaby’s self-publishing packages include everything you need to format, design, print, distribute, and sell your books worldwide. That way, you know everything is being done correctly. Your books will be printed to perfection, your eBooks will work with every reader, and your titles will be distributed to every store with no issues.

And when it comes to distribution, by partnering with BookBaby, you can sell your eBooks and print-on-demand books in over 60 stores worldwide, including Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Setting the right price for your book

Again, this is where market research will help you. See how much your competitors are selling their books for, and see if you can match their prices. Another tip: join a writer’s group and see what price points seem to be working for everyone else. You can also try selling your book at different prices until you see what works. Customers are weird, and they don’t always buy books at the lowest price point.

Marketing your nonfiction book

Effective marketing is essential for generating a buzz and driving sales for your book. You will have already started the marketing process when you created your proposal, which should include a marketing plan.

Start by identifying and understanding your target audience, and tailor your marketing strategies to resonate with their interests and preferences. In short, figure out where your customers are and how they are likely to spend their money. You want to be on the social media platforms they are on, and that includes buying ads on those platforms. Plan a compelling book launch to generate excitement and momentum, then solicit reviews from influencers and readers to boost credibility and visibility. Attend events or conventions where your customers are going to be. Try to book public speaking engagements to build your author brand and connect with potential readers (plus, these events are great for in-person sales). And finally, create and maintain a mailing list, and be sure to send out monthly newsletters.

The most important thing is to never stop promoting your nonfiction book.

For more reading, check out these helpful articles:

Bring your nonfiction book to life

Self-publishing a nonfiction book requires dedication, attention to detail, and strategic marketing efforts. By following the steps outlined in this guide, and partnering with a publishing professional like BookBaby, you can absolutely compete in today’s nonfiction marketplace and achieve your publishing goals.

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